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  • Garrett is eager to prove he can fill in for Fisher

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004

    While cornerback Travis Fisher had surgery on his broken right forearm
    Wednesday, Kevin Garrett was busy trying to show that he is worthy of replacing
    Fisher in the Rams' lineup.

    "I want to do well so I can prove myself and let everybody relax a little bit,
    let them know I'm capable of taking the job," Garrett said before practice at
    Rams Park. Although coach Mike Martz reported that the operation went "very
    well; there wasn't any damage to any of the nerves," Fisher is expected to be
    sidelined three to four months.

    Barring a personnel move, Garrett and DeJuan Groce, when he recovers from a
    strained knee, are the primary candidates to fill Fisher's spot. Both are
    second-year players, the 5-foot-10, 194-pound Garrett from Southern Methodist
    and the 5-10, 192-pound Groce from Nebraska. Groce started one game last year,
    which is one more than Garrett.

    Still, Groce said: "We're real confident. That's what they drafted us for. If
    anybody goes down, we have to be prepared to go in. You've just got to be
    ready. You never know what's going to happen."

    Garrett got the call when Fisher was injured late in the first quarter Monday
    night at Kansas City. Garrett was credited with one tackle in a 24-7 loss that
    dropped the Rams' preseason record to 0-2 heading into Friday night's meeting
    with Washington (2-1) at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "When I found that he'd broken his arm, it got to me that I'd have to go in
    there and step up," Garrett said. "He and (Jerametrius Butler, the other
    first-team corner) had been nursing some hamstring issues during camp, and
    myself and Groce got the chance to get some reps in camp and start in the
    Chicago game (Aug. 12). So that gave me a place to start and see where I was.

    "I feel right now like I'm ready to step in and take over for Fish and
    hopefully do my part."

    Groce ran outside while the team practiced inside Wednesday and said he expects
    to be ready to go soon. "There was always an urgency, because you just want to
    get back. It doesn't feel right, sitting on the sideline and watching your
    teammates out there," he said. "Now, there's more of an urgency."

    Bulger bruises knee

    Quarterback Marc Bulger, who took a shot to his left knee against the Chiefs,
    participated in Wednesday's non-contact practice. He said that "unless I'm told
    otherwise, I anticipate playing" Friday.

    "He's got a little bone bruise in there. It's annnoying, but certainly it's
    nothing that he can't play with," Martz said. "It's nothing really to be
    concerned about other than it's painful and it's aggravating for him."

    Bulger said he was eager to atone for a weak showing in KC, where the
    first-team offense was unproductive during six first-half possessions.

    "We could make a million excuses, but the bottom line is, we're just not
    executing," said Bulger, who went eight for 15, threw an interception that was
    returned for a touchdown and had a 37.4 quarterback rating. "I was embarrassed
    personally."

    Nutten steps up to the first team

    Less than a week after un-retiring and reporting to camp underweight and rusty,
    Tom Nutten was working with the first-team offensive line Wednesday. Nutten
    filled in at right guard for Adam Timmerman, who has a sore shoulder and might
    not play Friday.

    "Tommy took all the reps with the 'ones.' We're getting him ready to play,"
    Martz said. "He's up in weight, and he's gaining his strength back. He feels
    good. I'm anxious to get him in a game and play him a little bit this week."

    Nutten, who is listed at 6-5 and 280, spent five seasons, four as a starter,
    with the Rams before retiring last August.

  • #2
    Re: Garrett is eager to prove he can fill in for Fisher

    I think Garrett gets the nod if only because he's been in practice and has been playing, whereas Groce has been sidelined with an injury. Plus, Garrett looked pretty good on some of the passes against KC.

    As for Bulger, I hope his eagerness translates to results on the field. I'm tempted to believe if the line isn't any better, it's not going to matter. But hopefully he can fix some of the accuracy problems he had on Monday.

    And finally for Nutten, if he's practicing for the ones in Timmerman's spot, that probably means he's got a good shot of starting at left guard for us when the season opens. I feel much better about that right now than I would Dishman or King.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Garrett is eager to prove he can fill in for Fisher

      I agree to give it to Garrett. It's weird, but this move doesn't really have me all that concerned. I think both guys should be OK. They're gonna get beat because they're young, but I like their potential. My problem is that hopefully the play won't get to them as much as it has been the past couple games.

      Comment

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      • RamWraith
        Rams Begin Prep for Washington
        by RamWraith
        hursday, August 26, 2004

        By Nick Wagoner
        Staff Writer

        After a couple days of consistently bad news, the Rams got some good news Tuesday night. Quarterback Marc Bulger had an MRI on his left knee Tuesday, but the results came back the way he hoped, revealing there was no damage. Had Bulger suffered a serious injury, it would have been the next in an extensive line of blows for the Rams in the preseason.

        Kyle Turley’s back remains a question, Dave Wohlabaugh was released because of a hip injury, Jimmy Kennedy broke his foot and Travis Fisher broke his right forearm. None of that would compare to a Bulger injury that would cause him to miss an extended period. Fortunately for the Rams, it appears they have little to worry about in Bulger’s case.

        Bulger said his knee is going to be fine. “It’s good,” Bulger said. “We just had an MRI just because we didn’t have the extra time to evaluate it after a day or two. With the short week, we just wanted to get a quicker diagnosis. I think you can usually tell when you’re injured, but I think it was just more precautionary.” Bulger said his knee was sore and he might be limited with running in the next few days, but he expects to play against Washington on Friday night.

        Coach Mike Martz said Tuesday that Bulger was spun around and might have been hit on the kneecap when he was sacked in the first half against Kansas City on Monday night. Bulger played the entire first half before calling it a night. In his stint, Bulger was eight-of-15 for 67 yards and an interception. The Chiefs blitzed more than most teams in the preseason, taking advantage of St. Louis’ patchwork offensive line and sacking Bulger three times.

        The protection must pick up blitzes better against Washington to ensure that Bulger stays healthy and the offense gets going. St. Louis has scored 17 points in its first two preseason games. Bulger said he can’t worry about anything but his own performance. “I think it’s pretty obvious we need to put the ball in the endzone,” Bulger said. “They are doing a fine job. I have got to shore up some of my own business. It’s not for me to worry about everyone else. The bottom line is we are not getting it done. “We could make a million excuses, but the bottom line is if we had 10 plays we should be able to score.”

        NEW BEGINNINGS: Cornerbacks Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce began their first day of practice as Fisher’s potential replacements. Martz said Fisher had surgery Wednesday and there was no nerve damage. Groce has missed time because he sprained his left knee on Aug. 18, and he resumed running Wednesday.

        Replacing an injured player is not new to Groce, who was in a similar situation in 2003. Fisher strained his groin against Green Bay on Oct. 19 and Groce came in to replace him. The next week against Pittsburgh, Groce made his first career start in Fisher’s stead.

        ...
        -08-26-2004, 12:12 PM
      • RamWraith
        Garrett, Groce Move to Forefront
        by RamWraith
        Tuesday, August 24, 2004

        By Nick Wagoner
        Staff Writer

        About one year ago, Kevin Garrett and DeJuan Groce were rookies. Green as can be, the two young cornerbacks went through their first training camp with plenty of college pedigree, but little experience at the game’s highest level. They didn’t have to worry too much about stepping in and contributing on the field because of the presence of other talented corners Travis Fisher and Jerametrius Butler.

        On one play in the second quarter of the Rams’ second preseason game against Kansas City on Monday night, everything changed for Groce and Garrett. Fisher left the game after making a standard, everyday tackle, holding his right arm. It turned out the arm was broken and Fisher, who had four interceptions in 2003, could now miss the entire season. In an instant, Garrett was thrust into an unfamiliar role as the starting cornerback for the defending NFC Western Division champions.

        Fisher will have surgery Wednesday to get a plate put in his arm. He could miss anywhere from eight weeks to four months. Rams coach Mike Martz said Tuesday that he hopes to get Fisher back late in the season, but there are no guarantees. “No one really completely knows when we’ll get him back,” Martz said. “I think for us at this point, nobody really knows, so there is no sense in putting a time on it. It just gives somebody else an opportunity. That’s what they are here for.”

        Fisher’s absence leaves a gaping hole in the secondary that Garrett and Groce will attempt to fill. Groce sprained his left knee in practice on Aug. 18. He has not practiced since, but Martz said Groce would get back to workouts as early as Thursday. “We could possibly have him this week,” Martz said. “He will start running tomorrow. It’s a day-to-day thing. If he’s not ready, he’s not ready.”

        Garrett, meanwhile, appears ready to take his shot at the leading role. With Groce out of action, Garrett came in for Fisher and did a solid job in relief. Garrett was in a similar position to Fisher last year, when he missed valuable time with a fractured wrist. He played mostly on special teams in the nine games he appeared.

        Garrett is, perhaps, the fastest Ram. The second-year player out of Southern Methodist has had a strong camp, according to Martz. “Kevin had a better camp than I would have thought,” Martz said. “He had the furthest to go just in his skills and his background. DeJuan was a little more refined and I thought Kevin caught up. I was hardpressed to determine which one had the edge. That is good news.”

        If neither of the young corners can make the next step, there is one more option to replace Fisher. Aeneas Williams would probably be a pretty serviceable replacement considering he is likely to one day enter the Hall of Fame as one of the game’s all-time great cover men.

        Williams moved to safety a year ago...
        -08-25-2004, 06:41 AM
      • RamWraith
        Fisher's injury puts secondary in tough spot
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        08/24/2004

        After bumpy rookie seasons, cornerbacks DeJuan Groce and Kevin Garrett felt much more at home in their second NFL training camp.

        "You can see that confidence building in them," secondary coach Perry Fewell said last week, before the team broke from Macomb, Ill. "I think they're much more comfortable and not as anxious as they were a year ago."

        That confidence and "comfort" will be put to the test after Travis Fisher suffered a fractured forearm in Monday's preseason game in Kansas City. Fisher is scheduled to have surgery today.

        Immediately after the game, coach Mike Martz indicated that Fisher could be lost for the season. He softened that stance somewhat on Tuesday, but it's clear Fisher is out for an extended period.

        "No one really completely knows when we'll get him back," Martz said. "You can be very optimistic and talk about eight to 10 weeks, and then very pessimistic and say three to four months. ...We're not going to put him on IR (injured reserve) at this point."

        But the bottom line remains the same. Fisher, an up-and-coming cornerback, will be hard to replace - and Groce or Garrett will be the replacement. "They've both had very good camps," Martz said. "In fact, Kevin had a better camp than I would have thought. He had the furthest to go, just in his skills and his background. He didn't have the discipline.

        "DeJuan was a little bit more refined. And I thought Kevin caught up pretty good in camp. In fact, I was hard-pressed to determine which one had the edge."

        Groce normally is Fisher's backup, but Garrett has stepped into that role since Groce suffered a knee injury last week in Macomb. The injury occurred while Groce was planting in coverage against Torry Holt.

        Martz said Groce is close to coming back, but may not be ready to go until the preseason finale Sept. 2 in Oakland.

        "I think the swelling is out of the knee pretty good at this point," Martz said. "It's not as sore. ... It's a day-to-day thing. But if he's not ready, he's not ready."

        Even after Fisher's injury, the Rams don't want to rush Groce back against Washington on Friday, or against Oakland. It's the regular-season opener Sept. 12 against Arizona that counts.

        "Everything is about getting ready for that opener, and that's what we have to keep in mind," Martz said.

        Groce was the team's third cornerback last season, and occasionally got thrown into some tough situations - like that start against Hines Ward, Plaxico Burress and the Pittsburgh Steelers in October when Fisher was sidelined with a strained groin.

        "I got thrown into the fire sometimes last year," Groce said. "Having...
        -08-25-2004, 06:40 AM
      • RamDez
        Groce gets a chance to prove himself
        by RamDez
        By Bill Coats

        Of the Post-Dispatch
        09/19/2004

        DeJuan Groce (24) tries to force wide receiver Mike Furrey to give up the ball during a Rams practice session.
        (Chris Lee/P-D)



        DeJuan Groce thought he'd saved the day.

        The Rams were clinging to a six-point lead late in the third quarter last Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, but Arizona was driving. On a third-and-7 play from the Rams' 16-yard line, Groce picked off a Josh McCown pass near the goal line.

        But a defensive-holding penalty nullified the interception, and the Cardinals moved in front 10-9 on the next play. After the Rams came back to win 17-10, Groce could shrug off his personal disappointment.

        "Oh, well," he said. "I have a lot more (interceptions) to go."

        How many more games he has to go as a first-team cornerback probably depends on how long it takes Travis Fisher to recover from surgery on the forearm that he fractured Aug. 23 in an exhibition game vs. Kansas City.

        Groce said he realizes that, but he also is eager for the chance to show that he can handle the position, too.

        "It's a little of both," said Groce, 24. "You're here to prove yourself ... (and) they have confidence in me in starting me. So I'm going to go out there and fill (Fisher's) shoes until he gets back."

        For a time, that job appeared to be Kevin Garrett's. Groce went down Aug. 18 at training camp with a strained knee and didn't return to the practice field until Sept. 6, which was less than a week before the regular-season opener. In the meantime, Garrett was teamed with Jerametrius Butler at corner. But the 5-foot-10, 192-pound Groce got the call in the regular-season opener.

        His performance against the Cardinals, coach Mike Martz said, buttressed that decision.

        "DeJuan played exceptionally well," Martz said. "He missed that time in camp, but right now it doesn't look like it. ... He's got such great confidence, quiet confidence. Nothing seems to shake him up."

        That might be because Groce has plenty of big-game experience. He played college football at Nebraska, where the competition is stout and the pressure is heavy.

        He started 27 games for the Cornhuskers, recording 142 tackles and eight interceptions, plus he had five punt returns for touchdowns.

        Groce, a native of Garfield Heights, Ohio, said he went to Nebraska for one main reason: coach Frank Solich.

        "He's a good guy, and he knew a lot about football," Groce explained. "Plus, he's an Ohio legend from when he played high school football there."

        Solich was an all-state and All-America running back at Holy Name High in Cleveland.

        He was Tom Osborne's hand-picked successor, and he went 58-19 in six seasons as
        ...
        -09-19-2004, 04:45 AM
      • RamWraith
        Rams cornerback trying to recapture form after injury
        by RamWraith
        R.B. FALLSTROM

        Associated Press


        ST. LOUIS - The first hit was the worst part of Travis Fisher's comeback. After being out since the preseason with a broken right forearm, the St. Louis Rams' cornerback thought he had broken it again.

        "It was aching real bad," Fisher said Wednesday. "You can't help but notice it when it's hurting."

        It ended up being just a scare for the third-year player, who made it through the entire game against the Dolphins two weeks ago. That game ended up helping him shake off some rust and he'll be trying to shake off more on Sunday against the Patriots.

        "I think anytime you take a blow and break a bone, it's a setback," Fisher said. "It's going to be hard. But I'm getting there."

        Fisher, a second-round pick in 2002, was out more than two months after being injured Aug. 23 against the Chiefs in the next-to-last preseason game. So any struggles were understandable, especially considering that he only had a few practice days to prepare.

        "I felt like I could go out there and make some plays," he said. "I made a couple and I missed a couple. Those are gone and I'm working hard in practice on the things I messed up on."

        Coach Mike Martz said he probably rushed Fisher back to action, considering how long he'd been sidelined. He was anxious to get him on the field and solidify a secondary that's been banged-up much of the season.

        Fisher started 29 games the last two seasons, and last year he tied for the team lead with four interceptions. But his arm, which still is held together with a plate and screws, is not yet 100 percent.

        "I was remiss in not spelling him in that game in Miami," Martz said. "That's a coaching error on my part. He is absolutely, I think, a top-flight cornerback."

        Fisher ran and lifted weights for three days with the rest of the team last week, and on Monday he looked like a different player to Martz.

        "He had conditioned really well but still it's different than playing the game," Martz said. "He's there now, I believe."

        Fisher said the most difficult part of coming back is executing the fundamentals that become rote over time. He's a former high school sprint champion in Florida, so reacting to the pace of the game has been less of a factor.

        While Fisher was out, DeJuan Groce started four games at his right cornerback spot. Jerametrius Butler, the regular at left cornerback, started one game there when Aeneas Williams was moved to cornerback, and Kevin Garrett also started one game.

        Now, the shuffling is over.

        "I bring a lot to the game," Fisher said. "I go out and try to make something happen and I just love playing the game."

        Notes:@...
        -11-04-2004, 04:07 PM
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